Premier League: Manchester City 3 QPR 1

1 September 2012 20:48

Manchester City shakily coughed up a lead before pulling clear of QPR for a 3-1 Premier League win at the Etihad Stadium.

Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez scored second-half goals as City secured victory, but once again the defending champions were temporarily pegged back, and the points weren’t secure until a fortunate goal in injury time.

Yaya Toure gave City a first-half lead in what was a one-sided contest, finishing from the centre of the penalty area after an unfortunate deflection had diverted the ball into his path.

Not for the first time this year, however, the home crowd was stunned by less illustrious visitors when Bobby Zamora converted from point blank range after some good work from Andy Johnson.

It took City less than two minutes to restore their advantage as Dzeko headed home Tevez’s cross before Tevez’s knee deflected an off-target Dzeko strike into the back of the net to seal the win for City.

Corners looked City’s most likely route to goal in the early stages, with Dzeko missing the target with one attempt and seeing another cleared off the line.

QPR sat extremely deep in their own half and, in bizarre fashion, their best chance of the opening 15 minutes did not come courtesy of one of their own players. Jack Rodwell had Joe Hart scrambling after an attempted tackle in the middle of the pitch almost saw the ball deflect into Hart’s net.

Eventually, the set-plays paid off. When Tevez attempted to return Silva’s deep corner to the centre of the box, a deflection took the ball into the path of Yaya Toure, who swept a shot home with his left boot from 10 yards.

Robert Green may find himself quickly ousted as QPR’s first-choice goalkeeper when Julio Cesar becomes available to Mark Hughes but if not for an excellent save from the England international, David Silva would have doubled the lead after wriggling through a number of defenders and stabbing the ball towards goal from close range.

Silva had another chance when he raced on to Aleksandr Kolarov’s fine through pass but Fabio chased back quickly to block the Spaniard’s shot.

Matters did not immediately improve for QPR after the break. Superb play between Silva and Pablo Zabaleta saw the right-back overlap his winger to run on to a delicate through ball that he curled on to the crossbar with his weaker left-foot from a tight angle.

Once again, though, the defensive shortcomings and carelessness that City have suffered from this season surfaced. QPR equalised with near enough their first chance of the entire encounter when Johnson robbed Silva of possession and forced an excellent save from Hart, leaving Zamora to tap in the rebound.

This time, unlike against Southampton two weeks earlier, they recovered by scoring the next goal. Tevez latched onto a pass down the left-hand side of the penalty area and fired a head-high cross that Dzeko nodded in from a yard out to score the 200th league goal of Mancini’s 100 match-long reign.

QPR might have made it a less than impressive six goals conceded in City’s past three games when substitute Nedum Onuoha headed a corner back across the penalty area but Ryan Nelsen skewed a volley well wide.

Indeed, Hughes’ team enjoyed by far their best spell of the match in the closing stages as City backed off into their own half, but could not carve out the last chance they needed to steal a point.

And Tevez added a gloss to the result after the visitors’ attacks had petered out by diverting a wild Dzeko shot past Green.

Bundesliga wrap: Dortmund held at Nurnberg

1 September 2012 20:44

Borussia Dortmund’s uneasy start to the new Bundesliga season continued on Saturday, as they could only muster a 1-1 draw at Nurnberg.

Tomas Pekhart made the reigning champions pay for their scrappy start to proceedings on the half-hour mark with a bullet header, but Jakub Blaszczykowski’s immediate reply ensured Jurgen Klopp’s side were entitled to a share of the spoils.

The opening stages of the match were extremely cagey as both sides set their stalls for the afternoon however it was the hosts who broke the deadlock inside the first 32 minutes.

An out swinging corner from Hiroshi Kiyotake found Pekhart, who jumped highest in the box to nod Nurnberg into the lead.

But their advantage was short-lived. Only eight minutes later, Marcel Schmelzer’s cross caused all sorts of panic in the home side’s box with Robert Lewandowski’s saved header and Ivan Perisic’s crossbar effort allowing Blaszcykowski to sweep up the rebound.

Elsewhere, Werder Bremen claimed their first win of the season with a 2-0 home victory over Hamburg.

Aaron Hunt converted a penalty to give Bremen a 1-0 lead after 51 minutes before Nils Petersen, who is on loan from Bayern Munich, made it 2-0 on 67 minutes.

Newly-promoted Eintracht Frankfurt continue to set the pace in the Bundesliga after trouncing nine-man Hoffenheim.

Alexander Meier bagged a brace, and Pirmin Schwegler and Martin Lanig also scored as Frankfurt preserved their 100 percent record.

Meanwhile, Sami Hyypia’s Bayer Leverkusen ran out 2-0 victors over Freiburg, Schalke eased past FC Augsburg 3-1 and Fortuna Dusseldorf earned a point at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach, who bowed out of the UEFA Champions League during the final qualifying stage midweek.

Mainz went down 1-0 at home to Greuther Furth, with Felix Klaus scoring the winner in the 66th minute.

Ancelotti reveals van der Wiel coup

1 September 2012 20:31

Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed Paris Saint-Germain are close to signing Gregory van der Wiel from Ajax.

The Netherlands defender was linked with an exit from the Amsterdam Arena throughout the off-season, and a deal taking him to the French capital appears to be all but official.

The Dutchman is set to round off a summer of heavy spending for the Qatar Investment Authority-owned club, with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Thiago Silva having already joined PSG.

“Van der Wiel’s signature shouldn’t take too long,” Ancelotti said.

“Christophe (Jallet) was our only player who could play on the right side of defence. He’ll have to compete with Van der Wiel now, but I do not see that as a problem.”

Ajax are reported to have received a sum of five million euros for the full-back, whose contract was set to expire at the end of the season.

Ancelotti’s charges face Lille on Saturday as they look to end a run of three straight draws in Ligue 1.

Championship wrap: Derby win in style

1 September 2012 20:26

Derby County recorded an emphatic 5-1 victory at home to Watford to claim their first win of the Championship season.

Richard Keogh, Jeff Hendrick, Conor Sammon, Will Hughes and Jamie Ward opened up a five-goal buffer for Derby with just over 20 minutes remaining against a lacklustre Watford outfit.

Matej Vydra netted a late consolation goal for Gianfranco Zola’s men as Derby secured their first win at Pride Park since running out 3-2 winners against Crystal Palace on March 24.

Nottingham Forest and Blackburn both maintained their unbeaten starts to the season on Saturday.

Forest accounted for newly-promoted Charlton Athletic 2-1 thanks to a long-range free-kick from Lewis McGugan on 17 minutes and Sam Hutchinson’s strike 15 minutes from time, while Blackburn left Elland Road with a point after playing out an entertaining 3-3 draw.

Steve Kean handed a debut to Scottish international striker Jordan Rhodes but defender Markus Olsson opened the scoring against Leeds in the 19th minute before Nuno Gomes doubled their advantage eight minutes later.

Former Blackburn striker El Hadji Diouf reduced the deficit and Ross McCormack equalised in the 56th minute.

Luciano Becchio completed the sensational comeback nine minutes later however Rochina levelled proceedings in the 84th minute to ensure Blackburn preserved their unbeaten status.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Irishman Andy Keogh netted a brace as Millwall disposed of promotion hopefuls Middlesbrough 3-1 at The Den, Crystal Palace collected their first three points of the season with a hard-fought 2-1 win at home to Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley edged Bristol City 1-0.

Birmingham condemned Peterborough to its fourth consecutive defeat of the season following their 1-0 win and increased the pressure on under-fire manager Darren Ferguson, Steve Bruce’s Hull City accounted for Bolton 3-1, while Huddersfield held Ipswich to a 2-2 draw.

Craig Mackail-Smith scored twice as Brighton climbed up to fourth with a 3-1 win at struggling Burnley, while Blackpool made the trip to Leicester and suffered a 1-0 defeat – their first of the campaign.

Villas-Boas labels Spurs form ´normal´

1 September 2012 20:14

Andre Villas-Boas called for calm after his Tottenham side were booed off White Hart Lane following a 1-1 draw with Norwich City.

Spurs are still awaiting their first win under the 34-year-old, as they have accrued two points in the Portuguese’s time so far in north London.

And Villas-Boas, appearing calm post-match, added that it was ‘normal’ for a team to start slowly under new management.

“I think it’s normal. It comes normally with hard work and we continued to work hard today,” he added.

“I think the first half we weren’t so sharp, like last week we didn’t create lots of opportunities, so today was a little bit different.

“Second half we improved a lot, managed to have more of the ball and were creative. We fought hard to get the goal that we deserved but in the end suffered again on a set play.

“I think it’s obviously disappointing start for everybody, but we look to repay our fans with the win they deserve and the team deserve, we will continue to pursue that.

“I think it was down to Norwich being outstanding today, really proving that you can create good opportunities when you are playing away from home.

“They were very sharp, objective in their game, always creating us problems so we give credit to them, they found their inspiration from the amount of chances they had.

“We always looked a bit on the back foot in the beginning but improved a lot in the second (half), but not enough at the end to take the result we wanted.”

The Portuguese also confirmed that despite splashing out 15 million pounds on Hugo Lloris on Friday that veteran Brad Friedel would continue to be his first choice.

The France captain Lloris was expected to replace the American, but Villas-Boas confirmed the 41-year-old will keep his place after a fine showing against Norwich.

He added: “(Friedel) had an amazing game, you have to give credit to him. It was a man of the match performance, he saved us a couple of times from going 1-0 down, it was so outstanding.

“Obviously competition increases for him, but the place is his because he is a tremendous goalkeeper and deserves that spot.”